Posted on 1 February 2024
WLT Company Information
A History of West London Transport, Over 40 Years serving London.
The West London Passenger Transport Association (WLPTA) was formed on 1 July 1982 (2024 is therefore our 42nd Year of Operation). The WLPTA was an amalgamation of two small existing Companies, the Smith’s Bus Company and the Superbus Company Ltd. Both of these operators had been cooperating already, they had launched a joint venture, the “Airline” route between Heathrow Airport and Central London.
At formation the fleet consisted of the following bus types; Leyland Atlanteans and Titans, MCW Metrobuses, AEC Merlin single deckers. These buses came from the Smith’s Bus Co. The Superbus Company had a more varied fleet which contained; Daimler Fleetlines, Dennis Dominators, a Scania Metropolitan and an open-top Routemaster. The single deck fleet was also varied with Mercedes-Benz mini buses, a rare full size saloon also from Mercedes, a Ford, as well as several coaches. A total of 33 double deckers and 10 saloons along with 5 coaches formed the initial WLT fleet.
The newly formed Company was, and still is, administered from the Head Office at High Street Stephenage in West London. Each Division is managed by a local office usually at one of the garages of the Company concerned.
The WLPTA was formed at a time of transport crisis in London, the statutory transport provider for the capital, London Transport Executive (LTE) was under attack by politicians who had widely differing views on how transport should be run and especially how it should (or should not) be funded.
London Transport was reeling from the “Law Lords” cuts, which had seen drastic cuts in both road and rail services during 1982. One of the main aims of the newly formed WLPTA was to restore at least some of the bus services that had been cut.
WLPTA is the holding company; the trading name of the Association is “West London Transport”. This name being used in all day-to-day operations. WLT BUSES is divided into Divisions which are autonomous in certain respects; this allows individual liveries etc to be maintained.
Smith’s kept their red and white colour scheme; Superbus retained its red and yellow livery. All the vehicles were renumbered into a common series, this pattern has been maintained ever since.
The WLPTA decided that a new Division should be formed, to operate the “Airline” route, not surprisingly this became known as the “Airline Division”. Operations by this Division began in February 1983. This section of the operation has concentrated on services with in area of Heathrow Airport as well as routes to and from Heathrow and Gatwick Airports.
Pinner & District Motor Services joined the Association from April 1st 1983. This long established local concern operated mostly contract services; they did have one stage carriage route, the 98B service from Rayners Lane to Pinner. The new Pinner & District Division brought to the WLPTA a motley collection of rather old buses. The policy of P&D had centred on buying second hand vehicles, then keep them running for as long as possible. This continued until 1985, when the WLPTA decided upon a more standard vehicle policy for all parts of the Association.
Watford TransporT was acquired in March 2010.
The WLPTA along with City Transport took control of operator Hants & Sussex on 5 November 2011, following that operators difficulties. H&S remains independent but owned 50% each by both CT and the WLPTA. Both operators are supporting the much reduced H&S operation, with vehicles and other means.
Following the opening of TfLs Elizabeth Line in November 2022, the WLT RailwayS service has now been superseded and indeed now closed.
WLT BUSES vehicle policy
The present vehicle policy of the WLPTA has seen a standard specification drawn up. This regulates features such as door layout, destination blind size and layout. As a rule only new buses are purchased by WLT BUSES.
Fleets based outside of London set their own policy to meet the local needs.
WLPTA fares policy
The policy of the WLPTA has always been that crew operation is the most efficient and socially desirable means of collecting money and providing passenger and vehicle security.
Flat fares are a feature of most routes (but buses operated for other concerns apply the fares as specified in the appropriate contract), as these are more passengers friendly. The use of roving conductors means that boarding and alighting times are speedy, also passenger do not need to have the exact fare, as change can be given without delaying the bus.
WLT has never allowed any reduction in fare for children or pensioners. This has often been a contentious issue, but has always been seen as a positive aspect of WLT BUSES by those fare payers who want a fast and reliable bus service.
Aldenham Bus Works
The vast bus overhaul works at Aldenham was purchased by the WLPTA in November 1986 after closure by the London Regional Transport Corporation (LRTC). West London Transport reopened the site in February 1987, after modernisation work. Aldenham Works are owned by the WLPTA but are jointly administered with City Transport (CT). Both WLT BUSES and CT saw that the closure of this site, by the LRTC, with its extensive facilities and highly skilled workforce was an opportunity not to be missed. The purchase of this facility has enabled both WLT BUSES and CT to maintain their vehicles in pristine condition, in marked contrast to many other bus operators in London. Not all the site was retained for bus related work. The sale of the some of the former works has seen retail premises open on part of the site.
As well as overhauling and repairing the WLT BUSES fleet, Aldenham also acts as a storage facility and a sales point for redundant WLT buses. A separate wholly owned subsidiary of the WLPTA, Aldenham Bus Sales, originally called ‘West’s’, is able to act as a dealership, as well as selling the services of Aldenham Works.
Aldenham is able to undertake any type of work on road vehicles, from minor repairs to the complete rebuilding of vehicles. Ultimately Aldenham were able to build complete new buses. This was achieved in 1995 when a number of Aldenham bodied Volvo Olympians were completed for the WLPTA. Further bodies have been built on DAF and MAN Chassis. More recently Aldenham have bodied a number of MAN three axle chassis, with bodies designed in Australia.
To support the WLT BUSES empire, a fleet of 50 ancillary vehicles are operated. These range from saloon cars used by inspectors, up to articulated trucks and heavy recovery vehicles. The service fleet is based at Aldenham, many vehicles are however found at bus garages and other WLPTA locations. With the exception of the French based vehicles, all are numbered in a common series. Most service vehicles carry an orange and yellow colour scheme. A small number carry a white with blue skirt livery. The Hong Kong based vehicles carry a version of the blue/cream/white bus livery. Back in the UK, one former bus is painted in Network SouthEast style livery. A single un-liveried saloon is used by the WLPTA Chairman.
Included in this fleet are a number of former buses. These have been converted for use as a uniform issue unit, a mobile classroom (used mainly by the RAILWAYS Department) and 4 dedicated driver training buses.
A number of vehicles are available for contract hire, this range from light vans to articulated box vans. These are operated under the fleetname of ABS Haulage.
Baker Street Bus Station
This site came into use from 3 October 1987. Baker Street is the hub of the SPEEDLINK services. The site was rebuilt and now houses staff and passenger facilities, with connections to the nearby UndergrounD station as well as travel information, ticket office and a small snack bar.
A control room overlooks the bus stands and parking area. The control room supervises the operations of the trunk routes, which cross central London.
A number of service vehicles are based at Baker Street; these can attend incidents and breakdowns in the central area.